The most common problem wasp species in Arizona are Paper Wasps, often called Arizona Yellow Jackets. Paper Wasps are societal wasps, which mean they live in large groups, and are a pervasive problem wasp species in Arizona. An established wasp colony or, more commonly, a series of wasp colonies can be very dangerous to humans, domestic pets and livestock. Paper Wasps can sting multiple times and will aggressively defend their nesting areas.
All wasps will defend their nests, but Yellowjackets and hornets are the most aggressive. They can be distinguished from bees by their thin "waists." Bees are thick-wasted. Yellow jackets fold their wings lengthwise when at rest. Like all wasps, yellow jackets prey on a variety of insects and other arthropods. Yellow jackets will also forage on foods that people eat, especially sweets and meats. They are considered beneficial insects, because they eat other insects. They are a nuisance to people however, because they are aggressive and leave painful stings.
The yellow jacket colony will remain active for only one summer, after which the queens will fly away to start more colonies. The remaining ones die at the end of the season, and the nest is not reused.
If a colony is disturbed, the yellow jackets can become very aggressive and sting. Make sure to inspect for yellow jacket nests, before mowing the lawn or using trimmers. For most people, the yellow jacket sting is temporary, but painful. However for allergic individuals, a single sting may result in a serious reaction that requires medical treatment.